February 29, 2008

I'm Hungry For Launch!

It is official.

Many of you have already been there. But starting at midnight tonight, the StAR Website is official, and up and running. We would love to know how you feel about it. What you love. What you hate. What you want to see that isn't there.

And for ASU students, there are links to MyASU and ASU Interactive at the bottom of the page. Always looking out for you guys.

Have fun with it, and be critical. Nobody likes a useless web page. Talk to you soon!

Cheers,
Sam
"And bring me a hardcopy of the Internet so I can do some serious surfing."
Scott Adams
(Author of the comic strip, Dilbert)



February 26, 2008

This Just In: Raw Sewage Helps Kids Read

Being President isn't easy. But I don't think it's as hard as this guy is making it. Honestly.

I'll get right down to business. Liberia is a rough place to raise a family right about now. My friend Lindsay just got back from doing some medical work there. If you want to read a little bit about her story, she wrote a blog while she was there.

Anyway, a brutal fourteen (14) year civil war ended five (5) years ago in Liberia, and almost nothing in the country works anymore. No running water. No electricity. No postal system. No public transit. Widespread unemployment. And no sewage. Yep, no sewage.

President Bush spent last week on a little Legacy Building /Public Relations jaunt around Africa throwing imaginary money at problems he and his administration know nothing about. But back to task at hand. Remember? This country has no sewage system.

So you can imagine my utter amazement at the President's announcement of one million (1,000,000) textbooks for the school children of Liberia. Half of which don't even attend school because they live in such devastating poverty. But the fun doesn't stop there. I mean, why would it? The President also promised desks and chairs for ten thousand (10,000) students. How generous.

I'm not just some wacko left-wing nut job with a chip on my shoulder. The following statements are based on my experience and education in the nonprofit field. And hopefully they will inspire a little thought. Here, watch me stretch this into something worth reading...

My good friends at New Global Citizens are fond of saying, "Local People Know Local Issues." I tattooed it in reverse on my chest so I could see it every time I got out of the shower. So, at least twice a month. But seriously, this is a golden statement. Local people, do in fact have a better hold on what is happening in their communities. Like, whether or not they have running water. And whether or not there is a postal system. Or whether or not there are feces in the street.

Local people in Liberia know that the money our President wants to spend on textbooks, chairs, and desks could be much better spent on a sewage infrastructure. I mean, if the textbooks he's buying cost half as much as what I spend on textbooks, that's a lot of infrastructure potential. Maybe there might be some left over for building some freshwater wells for Liberia's thirstiest children. I know, I know. Big dreamer.

There were also a few million (few,000,000) dollars promised to train a Security Force and some UN Peace Keepers. And here I go thinking that you need to make peace before you can keep it. But that's just my bleeding heart talking again.

All this just reminds me that of why I am in school. If everything goes right, one day I'll be the guy standing right next to the President having a conversation like this:

"Hey, Barack. This is a stupid idea. It's even worse than a Band-Aid. This wound is on our chest, and we're pouring Neosporin on our leg. We haven't even approached the bandage stage. Let alone the right anatomical area."

"Nice analogy, Sam."

"Thanks, man. You should really look into the fundamental issues these people are dealing with. They lack fresh drinking water. There is very little electricity. And no public waste program. Let's hold off on textbooks and desks for now. In the long run, serving the root cause of this devastating poverty will look better for your legacy anyway. I promise. A little counterintuitive, but trust me. These people don't need books. They need sanitation. They need hope."

"Hey, that's my line."


But no. We are dealing with a man and an administration who thought the best way to prevent HIV/AIDS was to spend millions (80,000,000) of dollars on posters (pictured) and create useless acronyms. ABC everybody! A is for Abstinence. B is for Be Faithful. C is for Condom! No actual condoms. No medicine. And no education. Just millions (80,000,000) of dollars spent on pretty pictures, good headlines and great sound bytes. We are dealing with a man that values his legacy over the well-being of people is desperate need.


Reading about President Bush's trip to Africa reminded me of a book. A book that might find itself on the list of books sent to Liberia. It's a short little twenty-seven (27) page book that my mom reads to her kindergarten class sometimes. It's called Everyone Poops. The title is true. Everyone does poop. But only some have to walk around in it.

At least now they can read about it.

Cheers,
Sam
"It's easier to tear a country down than it is to rebuild."
George W. Bush



February 25, 2008

High Maintenance Camoflouge

Found this at Wooster Collective. From the Daily Mail:

"Desiree Palmen, a 44-year-old Dutch artist, uses a method that requires a huge amount of effort and attention to detail.

She makes cotton suits and paints the camouflage on by hand, painstakingly matching it to the chosen background. Either she or a model then poses in the suit in the chosen place.

The scenes are photographed and filmed and then put on display."
Below are some pictures of her work. Also, check out her website. Just some amazing stuff. Enjoy!

Cheers,
Sam
"Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence."
Magdalena Abakanowicz


Forum On Foreclosures

Congressman Ed Pastor has offices on the first floor of the University Center here at ASU Downtown Phoenix. He and Congressman Barney "Never Trust A Man With Two First Names" Frank will be holding a forum on housing foreclosures. Representative Frank is the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. The forum will be held Saturday, March 1, at 1:30PM. Here is the flier:

For more information, call 602-256-0551.

Cheers,
Sam
"The recent disturbances in the sub-prime mortgage industry are modest."
George W. Bush

And The...

My friends Jeremiah and Shelly were talking There Will Be Blood up and down this morning at work. I haven't seen it yet, and I am always up for a good synopsis. But all hell just about broke loose when they informed me that they thought No Country For Old Men was out-shadowed by the former film, and that the latter lacked plot and didn't deserve to be on any list of nominations.

Well, let's just say that I'm glad Miah and Shelly aren't on the Board of Governors for the Academy.

Congratulations to Daniel Day-Lewis, Joel and Ethan Cohen (pictured), Diablo Cody, Glen Hansard (video below), and the whole slew of others that got little golden statues last night. What about you guys? Any thoughts on people who got something they didn't deserve, or somebody that got overlooked? I'd love to hear it.

Also, things start clearing up here real soon schedule-wise, and I've got some exciting things in the works. I've been working on a grant for Phoenix Copper Bike. Be patient.

Cheers,
Sam
"Whoever Keyser Soze is, I can tell you he is going to get gloriously drunk tonight."
Kevin Spacey
(Talking about his film, The Usual Suspects, which won Academy Awards in 1995 for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor)



February 13, 2008

Yes We Can, No You Can't

If you haven't seen the Will.I.Am video called "Yes We Can". Here it is:



My friend Ron posted a parody:



Digging a little further I found another one:



Just a little fun for you guys today. It's Wednesday, so I thought I'd help you get over the hump. Obama won all three states last night. Yes We Can!

Cheers,
Sam
"In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."
Senator Barack Obama

February 12, 2008

Almost There!

The Official StAR Website is days away from completion. We are populating it with links, events, photos, and biographies. Just for fun, I thought I'd share mine here. Many of you who read this I know personally, but for those who don't have the satisfaction of being in my day-to-day life, here is a brief "up-to-now" on my collegiate history:

Hello Everybody!

I am so happy you stopped by to check us out! The College of Public Programs has so much to offer, and I am excited to tell you how I ended up choosing the program I did...

After graduating from Ironwood High School, I headed off to college. But I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I found out that I knew nothing about the major I signed up for (architecture) and I didn't spend any time outside of class to study or learn more about it. I just didn't have the passion for architecture that I thought I did. After two semesters, I had to take some time off from college because I was on "academic probation". Not a good thing!

However, it was probably the best thing that could have happened. Why? It landed me where I am today. I started taking classes at a local community college, and began to volunteer for a local organization called Neighborhood Ministries. Working with inner-city, at-risk youth was a very eye-opening experience. I had worked with my church before, but I had never done the type of volunteering I was doing in Downtown Phoenix. I mentored a young man named Jesus, and worked with a small group of about seven (7) boys every Tuesday night. We would go bowling, eat tacos from Jack in the Box, or just go to the library and do homework. I found myself falling in love. Not only with the boys and their families, but with the organization. Not only was I excited about the life changing services that Neighborhood provided, but also how they were able to provide them. I was intrigued to learn more about the wheels that were turning behind the scenes.

I had worked in the retail industry for a very long time, and I had a sound understanding of business because of those experiences. But going into the "dog eat dog" world didn't seem appetizing. After all, even if I won the rat race, I'd still be a rat! But I saw here an opportunity to put my interest for business to beneficial use. I started working for Neighborhood in the Development Office. I worked on putting together a golf tournament that ended up raising $25,000 for the organization, and I also kept in contact with our individual donors about what Neighborhood was doing to change the world in young lives. After about a year there, I knew that this was for me. My hunch was right. I really did love the "behind the scenes aspect" of a nonprofit organization.

It was time to go back to school. A friend had recently graduated from the College of Public Programs with a Certificate in American Humanics. I learned later that this is a fancy phrase for Nonprofit Leadership. It sounded intriguing, so I took a deeper look into the program to see if it would fit for me. As they say, the rest is history. I am now a Nonprofit Leadership & Management major pursuing a certificate in American Humanics.

But the story doesn't end there. That is just how I got to where I am now. To keep up with me know, follow my blog. There are also tons of great resources here on the site to get you connected with people who can answer questions specific to your situation. And if I can be of any help, please don't hesitate to email me. Talk to you soon!



Cheers,

Sam

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."

Mahatma Gandhi

February 11, 2008

Changing The World One Poop At A Time

I am taking a lot of classes this semester. One of them is not Underwater Basket Weaving. One of them is, however, Environmental Biology. In that class we learn about how much we have screwed up the place we inhabit, and what we can do now to fix it. But it's not just about textbooks and papers. We also are participating in a semester long assignment called "Project Action". This is such an amazing idea that I had to tell you about it. Getting people excited about driving slower or composting organic kitchen waste is a daunting task. So why not force kids to change the world for college credit? Such a great idea. Read this from the description provided for us by the professor -

Choose three actions from the list on the next page. There are many things each person can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but these options were chosen because they are generally active decisions that you make many times a year.

The actions must be quantifiable. It must be something that you can measure the impact of in some way.

Of the thirty (30) or so options on the list, I chose all those relating to the bathroom. We have low-flow shower heads, bricks in the toilets, and we now use non-toxic cleaning supplies and non-antibacterial hand soap. Grey Water will soon be introduced, but that has to be Landlord Approved. The second part of the project is to see how much change the Project created in each of our own homes by documenting the changes quantitatively. Furthermore, we were provided with the estimated number of households in Maricopa County and the US as a whole. With these numbers, we will calculate how much our respective county-wide and national ecological footprints would be reduced if everyone enacted the same changes we did at the individual level. How cool is that?

That's all for now. But I couldn't go another day without letting you know about this. I'm excited to see the numerical results and posting my results and analysis for you all to enjoy. Look for those in the upcoming weeks. Until then, I'll be creating a better tomorrow by eating fiber today.

Cheers,
Sam
"You pooped in the refrigerator? And ate a whole wheel of cheese?! I'm not even mad. That's amazing!"
Ron Burgundy
(Will Ferrell in The Legend of Ron Burgundy)

February 6, 2008

Rock & "Fail" For ASU

I just got back from a little party that Valley Metro put on to promote the Light Rail progress, called the Rock & Rail Dance Party. We had a blast tasting the local fare, dancing the morning away, shaking hands, and rubbing elbows.

Not only were local restaurants and shops there (read: free food), but so were local elected officials including Michael Nowakowski, Michael Johnson, and, of course, Phil Gordon (read: free food and local media coverage).

There was fun had by all. Danielle nearly won a free iPod in a dance contest, and Candi won a gift certificate to Central Bar & Grille. What it made is so fun for me? I got to network my socks off! I got to meet Nick in real life, finally, and talk about his new projects and visions for the site. On a quick side note (speaking of "meeting in real life") - right after I left the event, Nole and I had our first phone conversation, elevating our relationship from "blog friends" to what he labeled, "voice friends". I am sort of scared to see what happens next...

Anyway, back to my "meeting people" extravaganza. I had a chance to see an old regular from back in my Green Giant days, Dylan. He owns and operates Portland's Restaurant with his wife, Michelle. Catrina from the Downtown Phoenix Public Market and I chatted it up for a little while, as well. I learned that they are expecting to be all settled into their new location by early summer, and they are just tickled pink to have all of us students downtown.

Which is weird. Because ASU's official presence at the event communicated anything but the reciprocation of that excitement. Consisting of two cheerleaders and a rip-off Sparky, this dream team of energy attempted to get the crowd chanting, "A-S-U". No introduction to the chant, no warm-up. Just hopped right up on stage and said, "Hey, everybody. Let's chant A-S-U! Ready? A! S! U!"

This isn't high school. This wasn't even a college crowd. A majority of the nearly one hundred (100) people (a total guess, by the way) were professionals on their lunch break or trying to get in on the freeloading. No guarantee that these people even went to college, let alone ASU. I'm not placing blame on either party (ASU or Valley Metro), but I feel that there was definitely a better way to reach the demographic at that event today.

For instance, why not have a representative from the School of Public Affairs talk about the graduate level Transportation Certificate that the school offers? Or how about officially announcing plans to offer free passes for the light rail to all students in the same way they do for the bus system? Just think what 55,000 riders would do for the sustainability of the program. Or maybe, someone could have spoken about the fact that the Downtown Phoenix Campus expects to have almost 15,000 new customers for all of those business owners on the rail line? Not to mention the thousands already hanging out downtown looking for places to spend money.

At least in my mind, all of those sound way more interesting, and potentially more successful than getting a crowd of politicians, business people, and UA students to chant for ASU. But hey, what do I know?

Cheers,
Sam
"The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves."
Hellen Keller

PS - What do you all think about the new layout?

February 4, 2008

Vote Or Die

The plea is simple:




Don't know where your polling place is? Find it here. And then go!

Cheers,
Sam
"When a nation values its privileges over its principles, it soon loses both."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Delay of Phoenix Friday

19 credits, friends in town, and a couple of jobs really get in the way of in-depth research. So be patient.

For now, enjoy this video from Improv Everywhere. This is the newest project, but there are many more on the site. Enjoy, and see you soon!






Cheers,
Sam
"A man grows most tired while standing still."
Chinese Proverb

February 1, 2008

Honey, I Think We Need More Detergent

Why can't I be this smart?



From Eco Friend. The full story is here. This would be filed under the "Reuse" category, I think. Don't forget, Phoenix Friday is back later tonight.

Cheers,
Sam
"You know you've made it when you have been molded in miniature plastic."
Cate Blanchett